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State pandemic alert procedures explained

Recent guidance issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services encourages states to provide employees with information about pandemic flu and steps the state is taking in anticipation of a potential pandemic. In accordance with this guidance, we provide the following information.

The State of Wisconsin has developed Continuity of Operations (COOP) pandemic plans to protect the health of state employees and maintain operations during a pandemic. One important component of these plans is identifying ways of communicating with employees in the event of a pandemic. Wisconsin has identified e-mail as one method of communication.

If health officials determine that a pandemic could break out in the near future in the United States, you will receive an e-mail message stating that your agency has entered an “alert period” This period will be an opportunity for agencies to finalize, update and test their COOP pandemic plans. If a pandemic actually begins, you will receive a similar e-mail message stating that your agency has entered an “action period”

During this time, agencies will activate their COOP pandemic plans and inform employees of protective steps they should take. Such steps may include avoiding close physical contact with others and infection control measures such as staying home when ill, covering a cough and washing hands frequently. During the course of a pandemic, employees may receive additional e-mail messages providing updates and further guidance.

The purpose of this message is to inform you of one communication tool the state and university will use in the event of a pandemic. Additional back-up communications tools are also being put in place, and you will be advised of those as necessary. This message is also being sent as part of a state-wide drill to test the e-mail communication process. You need not respond to this message in any way.

More information about pandemic influenza and steps you and your family can take to be prepared can be found at <http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov>.

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